Alumni entrepreneurs


Vidyard co-founders Devon Galloway (left) and Michael Litt stand on the roof of 1 Queen St. North in the heart of downtown Kitchener (Communitech photo: Anthony Reinhart)

Systems Design Engineering (SYDE) graduates pursue a variety of different career paths. Many move into business roles, while others pursue professional designations in law or medicine, but an ever growing number choose to start their own businesses or work in technology startups.

SYDE graduates turned entrepreneurs have enjoyed great success. Here are a few of their stories, several of which began as ideas and projects formed during their undergraduate years on campus.

Michael Litt, Class of 2011 and Devon Galloway, Class of 2010

Founders of Vidyard

For the fourth-year Capstone design project, Michael Litt and Devon Galloway worked on an idea that formed the basis of their video-sharing startup, Vidyard. The company is now the leading video messaging and asynchronous communications platform with over 300 employees serving more than 12 million customers.

Litt credits part of their success to the skills learned in the Systems Design Engineering program, “it helps you think at a level that is truly solution oriented. You're equipped with this mindset of breaking down a problem into its solvable components. That, I think, is an often-overlooked aspect of what an engineering degree is at the University of Waterloo.”

In 2019, Litt was named to Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 list developed by the Caldwell executive search firm.

Litt and Galloway were featured in the Spring 2023 Waterloo Magazine story, From capstone project to international success.

Ian Forbes, Class of 1974

Vice President Marketing & International Sales, Fred Systems Ltd., Waterloo, ON

In the 1980's, Ian was working in video producing and equipment sales. This led to the formation of Video Works Inc with an old friend. He worked for two years in the new VHS business until Video Works grew to several divisions with 40 employees. He continued on as a video producer and director. He formed a partnership in 1993 with Fred Systems Ltd., a world leader in the development and installation of Digital Signage Networks. Fred Systems provides advertising with hi-tech video displays in public locations. He is currently Vice President Marketing & International Sales with Fred Systems.